Lawmakers are accused of violating free speech with a crackdown on pro-life pregnancy centers.

Pro-life pregnancy centers are coming under increasing pressure to promote abortions or close up shop, raising thorny questions about whether governments are forcing speech in the name of countering deceptive advertising. can be

The debate has taken center stage in Massachusetts, where the Worcester City Council is considering an ordinance to require pro-life or crisis pregnancy centers to provide abortion referrals — an effort that Somerville, Similar new movements follow in East Hampton and Cambridge.

Worcester City Councilor Thu Nguyen, who sponsored. Proposed The ordinance accuses some facilities of engaging in deception to keep pregnant clients away from abortions.

The center’s tactics include lying about abortion, birth control, and sexual health. Talking about religion when you didn’t come for it, and saying judgmental things about premarital sex, single parenting, queer people and BIPOC people,” the councilor wrote on July 19. said at the meeting. “They use intimidation tactics as well as delay medical health care. And this is where we need to take a stand.

“If these centers aren’t misleading, they don’t have anything to worry about,” Councilor Kathleen M. Toomey added, adding that any complaints about false advertising should be handled by the attorney general’s office. Should.

“Here in Worcester, people have a right to free speech,” Ms Toomey said. “This is not about abortion, this is about free speech, and as a council, we need to respect free speech. I’m not going to take away free speech from an agency. If they Fraudulent advertising, then the Attorney General is the person to handle that issue.

Also see: YouTube is cracking down on content related to abortion safety and practices.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling overturning Roe v. Wade sparked a backlash against pro-life facilities, which typically provide services such as free ultrasounds, pregnancy tests, parenting classes and baby deliveries. are

Whether they must also provide references to abortion has become a question for lawmakers as well as the courts.

Alliance Defending Freedom Trial Shortly after the 2021 law is passed, the state of Connecticut authorizes the attorney general on CareNet’s behalf to impose fines against “limited-service pregnancy centers” for “deceptive advertising practices.”

“The practical effect of enforcing the Act’s speech ban is not only to prevent a religious ministry from furthering its mission and message, but to prohibit religious speakers from speaking messages about abortion,” the lawsuit, filed in October, said. There is also coercion,” the lawsuit, filed in October, said. US District Court for the District of Connecticut.

At the Worcester council meeting, Ms. Toomey made the point that “many of these agencies are faith-based … there are laws protecting religious institutions. They don’t have to provide abortion services.

“They do completely different programming for people who don’t necessarily want it. [abortion]Ms. Toomey said. “As a matter of fact, I understand one of these places, you actually have to sign an acknowledgment that you know they don’t provide abortion services. Another agency on their website. has specifically stated that they do not provide abortion services, so I don’t know what delusional practices people are talking about when it is so obvious.

Council Voted 6-5 to create a draft ordinance that would specify such establishments “must provide either direct abortion or emergency contraception referrals”.

Of the Massachusetts towns weighing such proposals, only Somerville has actually passed such a measure, but there are no pro-life pregnancy centers within Somerville’s borders. There are at least two in Worcester: Clearway Clinic and Problem Pregnancy.

Both were centers. attacked Earlier this month, hooligans smashed windows and defaced buildings with paint. The perpetrators of the Clearway Clinic next stage spray-painted “Jane’s Revenge,” a reference to the radical pro-choice group targeting pro-life centers and churches across the country.

“This violence is troubling, but it should not be surprising,” Andrew Beckwith, president and general counsel of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said in a July 7 post. “Abortion itself is a horrific act of violence, and its advocates are seething with anger at their recent defeat at the Supreme Court.”

Pro-life centers outnumber abortion clinics by an estimated 3 to 1, even in deep blue Massachusetts.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, directed the Federal Trade Commission to issue rules to prevent “fraudulent or misleading advertising related to the provision of abortion services” by “misinformation against abortion by crisis centers.” introduced legislation last month to prevent

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Haley Been issued A consumer advisory about crisis pregnancy centers earlier this month said they “often mislead people about how far along they are in their pregnancy” and “push people out of that point.” try to delay scheduled appointments where they can get abortions.”

Abortion is legal in Massachusetts up to 24 weeks’ gestation, and thereafter to preserve the life or health of the mother and in cases of fatal fetal abnormalities.

“In Massachusetts, so-called crisis pregnancy centers outnumber legitimate abortion care providers 3 to 1,” Ms. Warren said in a July 6 statement. “I strongly applaud the efforts of Attorney General Haley and community partners to crack down on these fraudulent organizations in order to protect residents and women seeking abortion care in Massachusetts.”

CJ Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League, said such measures represent a divergence of views, noting that Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics receive no “comparative scrutiny.”

“Crisis pregnancy centers, unlike Planned Parenthood, receive no taxpayer funding, and little if any corporate or foundation support,” she said. “They offer women a compassionate alternative to abortion. They provide free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, counseling, employment, housing, and essential clothing and baby supplies.”

In 2021, the Massachusetts centers served about 3,000 women, provided 1,500 pregnancy tests and 1,200 ultrasounds, distributed more than 20,000 packages of diapers, and provided post-abortion counseling to about 100 women, the institute said. provided

According to the Boston-based group Reproductive Equity Now, there are about 30 crisis pregnancy centers in Massachusetts, which List Called “fake women’s health centers”.

“False and deceptive advertising of crisis pregnancy centers’ reproductive care options isn’t just a consumer protection issue — these facilities threaten the health and safety of pregnant women,” said Rebecca Hart, executive director of Reproductive Equity Now. There are risks posed by those seeking unbiased information about their reproductive choices.” In a March 25 statement, Holder.

If the Worcester ordinance passes, Mr. Doyle said Clearway Clinic and Problem Pregnancy should sue the city.

“This is a dictatorial measure, contrary to the First Amendment, conceived in a lie, and which, if passed, would reward criminal violence,” Mr. Doyle said.

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